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240                                      VERDICT  OX IXDIA
Of these languages the most important is :
_T.   ,.    > Spoken bv 150 millions.
Hindi  j    l
We have bracketed these two together for reasons ^hich we
will explain in a moment.
After this comes Bengali, a totally distinct language spoken bv
55 millions.
And then the languages of the south—Tamil. Telegu, Karmada,
and Malayan, again totally distinct from the others, though some-
times bearing faint resemblances to one another, and spoken by
another 55 millions.
The two other principal languages are Marathi (20 millions)
and Gujerati (15 millions).
Of all these languages Urdu and Hindi are obviously the most
important, since they are spoken by three times as many people
as any other language. They are not one and the same, for Urdu
is plentifully interlarded with Persian and Arabic, but they re-
semble one another closely enough for their speakers to make
themselves mutually understood. Gandhi wants to lump the two.
together under the common name of 'Hindustani,' and to force
this compound down the throats of the remaining 200 million
Indians. But at the very outset he is faced with a grave difficulty
—and it is, as usual, a communal difficulty. For though the two
languages are similar in sound, they #re totally dissimilar in
script; Hindi derives from Sanskrit and is written from left to
right in Xagari characters, whereas Urdu derives from Persian
and is written from right to left in Persian characters. Most
important of all, the Muslim bible—the Koran—is written in
Persian script. And so the Muslims bitterly resent any attempt to
tamper with their script or to 'Indianize'1 their speech.
These grave cleavages are naturally poo-poo M by Congress;
according to their propagandists they are merely British inven-
tions, and they paint the Indian Tower of Babel as though it were
really a Temple of Harmony. However, sometimes they let the cat
out of the bag—usually from sheer irritation at the recalcitrant
Muslims, who staunchly refuse to be 'absorbed/ The passionate^-
determination of the Muslims to cherish Urdu as a separate
language and not merely as a sort of echo of Hindi has been well